Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Japanese Treats

[Dish with decoration of tropical plant. Japanese, Edo period, 1650–1660. Ceramics: (12 5/8 x 2 5/8 in.) Arita ware in the Kutani style; porcelain with decoration in overglaze enamels and iron-oxide rim.
Luxuries from Japan, Museum of Fine Arts Boston.]

The object of the day is a large Arita ware Kutani style porcelain dish from the exhibition, Luxuries from Japan: Cultural Exchange in the 17th and 18th Centuries, currently on view at the MFA, Boston. Dominating the decoration are tropical leaves in turquoise green enamel, while the plant's twisted stems are painted in blue enamel. The background design is composed of brown floral whorls on mustard yellow.

Luxuries continues through Monday, January 17, 2011.  Learn all about it over at Enfilade and explore more lovely objects here.

[18th-century cotton painted mordant-and-resist-dyed Indian sarasa fragment made on the Coromandel Coast for the Japanese market.Tokyo National Museum. Image from Woven Cargoes: Indian Textiles in the East.]

Related past post: Daily Eye Candy.


[Detail view, an example of a Hepplewhite inlaid keyhole on a document box via Gary R. Sullivan Antiques Inc.]

[American (Tennessee or Kentucky) Sugar Chest, circa 1800-1825. Cherry; tulip poplar secondary. Gift of the Decorative Arts Trust, a support group of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.]

There was a time when sugar was kept under lock and key. Not because of calorie counting, but because sugar was so expensive. During the 19th century -- particularly in regions located far from seaports, such as Kentucky and parts of Tennessee -- handsome chests were made specifically to store the tasty yet very costly product.

Shown second from the top is a beautiful early-19th-century, American-made, Hepplewhite-influenced sugar chest with a refined inlaid keyhole, ample compartment for storage, plus additional drawer beneath. The piece belongs to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and was a gift from the Decorative Arts Trust. Now in its 30th year, the DAT is comprised of 350 members with a passion for textiles, ceramics, silver, glass, furniture and other decorative works. Currently led by President John J. Tackett, an architect who previously worked at Parish-Hadley in NYC before establishing his own firm, the group also sponsors educational tours and programs, many of which are free to the public with basic museum admission.

[Image via Dylan's Candy Bar.]

I would love to have a chest with graceful tapered legs modeled on the Southern piece in the Brooks collection. If I could have a secret temperature controlled compartment for a stash of Reese's, even better.  (I think Julia Reed, a true connoisseur of the world's finest chef-prepared and home-cooked fare, once said that every now and then biting into a Reese's is like entering Nirvana.)

[All cover images via Amazon.]

Books, of course, are always a healthy indulgence. The DAT has a project called Books for Brooks, offering a really nice way to honor an arts-enthusiast aunt, grandparent or friend. In order to maintain and expand the Museum's research library, DAT collects select book donations. A list of desired titles is provided here, and while the volumes certainly don't have to be given in memory or in honor of a specific individual, I think that option is great. Many of the titles on the wishlist are priced in the $50 range -- some are even $30.  Bookplates recognizing the honored person are placed in each donated edition. 

To learn more about the Brooks's permanent collection, click here.


The Huntington Vine

[All photography by James Fennell from The Irish Country House courtesy Vendome Press 2010.]

In yesterday's Halloween post, I mentioned that the old greenhouse used in the 1990s witch flick, Practical Magic, is my favorite element of the movie. Stylistically, the attached greenhouse appears to be late 19th century, so I was reminded of another Victorian garden conservatory featured recently in the Irish Country House post.

What I neglected to add the other day is that a cutting taken in the 1860s from the Great Vine at Hampton Court now forms a green canopy over the conservatory at Huntington Castle in Ireland. This greenhouse was a later Victorian addition to the home, which has roots in the 15th century. According to the authors of The Irish Country House, a naive mural painted by the children of Huntington was also added to the conservatory in the 1930s. A Gothic arched doorway in the castle's tapestry room leads to the verdant enclosed garden.

BTW: I never found time to finish the list of "haunted" historic house tours; instead, in the previous post, I included links to The House of the Seven Gables and old Salem.  


Witchy Women in the Kitchen

[Screengrabs from Practical Magic 1998. Production design by Robin Standefer.]

When it comes to kitchens in film, the set seen in 2003's Something's Gotta Give has become one of the most talked about in recent years, but I've always thought of Practical Magic's natural light-filled kitchen with adjacent greenhouse as a delight for the Anthropologie crowd.

[Aidan Quinn and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic.

Starring Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest as descendants of a long line of witches (yeah, it was the 1990s), Practical Magic is set in a small coastal Massachusetts town. However, the movie was actually filmed in Washington state. Home base is not a 17th-century dwelling or anything suggesting old Salem, but instead a late Victorian -- what appears to be an "American Queen Anne" by the sea. While the off-kilter, eccentric nature of the architecture suits the characters, the rooms are styled to come across as enchanted rather than spooky, with the kitchen and gardens being the most conventional spaces.

[Production design by Robin Standefer.]

Ask me about the kitchen's appliances and I'll draw a blank. The counters?  I think creamy marble but I'm not absolutely certain. Take the expansive room apart piece by piece and I'll tell you which elements I'd never choose for myself. With this kitchen, it's the overall ambiance that is so memorable. It's all about the sunlight streaming through the wavy old glass, the never-ending loosely arranged fresh flowers, the messy pancake batter, the beams overhead and the abundance of copper pots and pretty plates. Again, I have to reference Mary Randolph Carter because the mood is in keeping with her concept of the imperfect house.

[Copper bowl for egg whites available at The Cook's Warehouse.]

 [©A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter, Rizzoli New York, 2010.]

[Large handmade English/Raj copper pot, early 20th century, available through Bittersweet Interiors.]

[In Practical Magic, brownies are for breakfast. Ina Garten's brownies via Food Network.]

[Screengrabs from Practical Magic 1998. Production design by Robin Standefer. Click to enlarge.]

As welcoming as the kitchen is, though, I think it's the connected greenhouse that steals the show.

Bullock's character is highly skilled with botanicals and, in a very 90s twist, opens a little boutique in town to sell plant-based shampoos, lotions and assorted bath products.

[Plant-based foaming cleanser via Anthropologie.]

What a luxury it would be to have a functioning room like this right off the kitchen. In the movie, tall branches have been styled to twist up against the glass in an ethereal way, and terra cotta pots and glass cloches cover the work surfaces. It's girl-centric set design with a rustic edge.

To learn about architecture original to Salem, Massachusetts, click here.

BTW: If you do find yourself in Salem, don't forget the Peabody Essex Museum is located there too. And another reminder, Carter is scheduled to visit Anthropologie in Richmond, Virginia (9200 Stony Point Parkway #139) on Saturday, October 30th from noon to 3 p.m. Happy Halloween!

Practical Magic production design by Robin Standefer of Roman and Williams.

Related past post: Botanicals of Maria Sibylla Merian.


More Practical Magic

[Screengrab, Practical Magic 1998.]

So, I was finally pulling together my Halloween post (this year I plan to revisit Practical Magic's Victorian kitchen and garden conservatory) when I decided to pause for a bit and pop by Anthopologie's Holly Jolly Hoopla.

For a few hours this morning, the public was invited to help create Anthro's wintry store displays, and bins of both glittery and charmingly rustic ornaments were already blanketing the shop's floor.

There are miniature interpretations of Anthro's popular Savannah Story wall creatures.

And a jeweled menagerie too. Right now the selection in the store is much broader than the online offerings. I also spied a beautifully packaged artist's set not yet online either. Another retailer ahead of the holiday curve is Jayson Home and Garden.  Below is a sneak peek at one of Jayson's most irresistible ornaments, the paper ship.

In the days ahead, surf over to Jayson online to see the full array of ornaments as well as gift ideas. 

[Vignette courtesy Jayson Home and Garden.]


Full Circle

Ever since I learned about the work of 2010 MacArthur Fellow and sculptor, Elizabeth Turk, I've been noticing intricate collars everywhere. Recently at Coleen & Company, I spied a grouping of 18th-century etchings of heraldic "colliers" worn by French nobility. (A partial sampling is pictured here, above and below.)

[Images courtesy Coleen & Company.]

Coleen's etchings also caught my eye because I remembered that Turk has done her own contemporary drawings of the Mint Museum's historic lace collection. Those studies served as a jumping off point for Turk's series of sculptures, The Collars.

[Lace top is from Marc by Marc Jacobs, via Shopbop; sweater is by Catherine Malandrino. Turk's sculpture is via the Mint Museum from the past exhibition, The Collars: Tracings of Thought. Click here for more on Turk's work.]

Update 2:20 p.m.

[Image via Amazon.]

Alexandra Byrne designed the costumes for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, many of which of course include dramatic Elizabethan collars (see them here), and Janet Blyberg makes a great visual connection with Grinling Gibbons.


Anticipating: Chinese Style at the V & A

[From the top left: Illustration of a summer court robe worn by the Emperor, from The Illustrated Regulations for Ceremonial Paraphernalia of the Present Dynasty, commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor. China, 1736-1795 © Victoria and Albert Museum / V&A Prints; assorted books on Chinese decorative arts; and in the center, a red lacquer spoon.]

Since I last mentioned the V & A's upcoming exhibition, Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City, the museum has updated its site with more images and information. There is a curator's blog, a calendar of related workshops, talks, and seminars, and a special selection of Chinese-themed goods in the gift shop.

You may recognize a couple of the books pictured above from my past posts but there are other great titles to explore in the shop as well.

[Empress' court boots, 1662-1722. On loan from the Beijing Palace Museum. Click image to large.]

Rocking the tall boot, Qing dynasty style. Although three centuries of court robes form the foundation of the exhibition, shoes, luxe patterned fabrics made for clothes horse Empress Dowager Cixi, hats and children's clothes are also included in the show.

Just a bit more from the online shop: mini Chinese porcelain vases crafted in Jingdezhen. Imperial Chinese Robes from the Forbidden City opens December 7, 2010 and continues through February 27, 2011.


Fall Projects

Ever so slowly, I'm working my way toward a row of frames resting against a wall, something vaguely similar to what Ralph Lauren senior vice president, Daniela Kamiliotis, did with her home studio arrangement.  Although, for space-saving reasons, most of mine won't be empty.  

Funny thing: back in August, I mentioned being inspired by the frames in Ralph's fall ad campaign. That was before I'd taken a really close look at the bounty of mouldings in Kamiliotis' studio as photographed by Mary Randolph Carter.  Now when I see the large empty gilded frames next to the models in the 2010 ads, I instantly think of RL's "artist-in-residence."

So, further motivated by Carter's pictures, along with the anticipation of holiday card-making projects, I decided to finally follow through with that inspiration board on which I might post thick cardstock and fabric samples sans pins. Earlier in the summer, I'd picked up a very thin, lightweight sheet of magnetic zinc-plated metal at Home Depot (these cost about $5 to $10 each, depending on the size) and, using duct tape, covered it with my last scrap of Malula linen.

The framers at Binders finished it off for me with a mellow silver moulding but since the sheet metal comes in regular sizes, a readymade "off-the-shelf" frame is another option if you want to conserve more cash. Now I just need to get around to framing the feather linocut I bought from PerlaAnne

[SCAD mascot Art the Bee and student performers lead afternoon’s celebration. Image courtesy SCAD Atlanta.]

But enough about my creative projects. Today, students at Sarah Smith Elementary were surprised by special visitors from SCAD: the university mascot, Art the Bee, and a SCAD team of volunteers carrying stacks of art supplies and books to be donated to the school. The gift brought things full circle; before founding SCAD in 1978, President Paula Wallace taught at Sarah Smith, an award-winning public school in Atlanta.

Leather swatches on board are from Moore & Giles.

Cups and Collections in New Orleans

[Pottery by Jim Connell from Art of the Cup: Functional Comfort. Image courtesy the CFSCD.]

I think many people are familiar with The Ogden, New Orleans' dynamic young museum dedicated to the visual arts of the American South (read the institution's fascinating story here), but did you know about the museum's Center for Southern Craft and Design?

In keeping with the museum's mission, the CFSCD provides today's artists and artisans opportunities to share their work with a much broader audience. Coming up very soon is an example: CFSCD's third annual juried invitational exhibition, Art of the Cup: Functional Comfort.

I've been told that more than 50 participating potters submitted up to two ceramic pieces (the vessels could be tea bowls, cups and saucers, or mugs). Why cups? Well, in part because they are comforting. There's nothing threatening about a cup, and collecting handmade vessels like these can be a wonderful way to incorporate something artisanal into an existing collection of conventional wares. Shown above is a lovely sample from Jim Connell; I'm also anxious to see what Rachael Therese exhibits. In all, over 90 pieces will be shown, with prices ranging from $25 to more than $100.

Be sure and stay tuned to the CFSCD blog for detailed images, the complete list of potters, and special giveaway news. The exhibition opens Thursday, October 28, during Ogden After Hours (featuring the Honey Island Swamp Band), and will be on view through January 2, 2011.

BTW: Vesta Fort will moderate Collecting 101: Before and After: A Conversation with designer Gerrie Bremermann and Jennifer and Fred Heebe, November 3, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Ogden. The details for this event are also available through the CFSCD blog.

 [Unusual 1901 high-glaze Newcomb Pottery vase photographed by Paula Burch-Celentano. Image via Tulane University New Wave.]
Related past post: Throwing, Designing, Painting and Decorating. 

The Irish Country House

 [All photography by James Fennell from The Irish Country House courtesy Vendome Press 2010.]

[Library at Clandeboye shown in images one and two, above.]

It's very hard to describe The Irish Country House without saying something extremely predictable like how the book is just the thing to curl up with, steaming hot beverage in hand, on a nippy Sunday morning. So many of the rooms captured by photographer James Fennell in the thoroughly illustrated volume call to mind that very activity. Well-worn editions crammed into old shelves (or spilling over onto floors) are common to most of the houses featured.

[Books at Huntington Castle.]

One of my favorite libraries, pictured at top, was created at Clandeboye in the early 19th century, taking over the original entrance hall. (The authors take special care to explain numerous modifications done to these houses through the centuries -- something I think architecture enthusiasts will enjoy.) With former occupants including the 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, who was Viceroy of India and Governor General of Canada, Clandeboye is home to global relics encompassing a mummy case, Egyptian granite sculptures and tablets, textiles, Indian sculptures and a Burmese bell. When I first caught a glimpse of the artifact-laden Imperial staircase, my mind flashed -- for a second -- to that romantic pop culture couple, Rick and Evy.

On the grounds, the 1st Marquess built Helen's Tower, a folly that was the subject of a Tennyson poem.

 [A drawing room at Clandeboye overlooking the park.]

The current Lady Dufferin (aka painter Lindy Guinness) is said to be breathing new life into Clandeboye. A patron of artists such as Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud, she herself was a pupil of Bloomsbury artist, Duncan Grant.

 [A portrait of Thomas, 2nd Earl of Longford and an open drawer of notepaper with a black border for mourning -- Tullynally.]

As mentioned in a previous post, the homes featured in The Irish Country House are unusual because they are still lived in by the descendants of the original owners. Refreshingly un-hip, the rooms are filled with layers of personal ephemera and timeless antiques. So, all of the ten documented houses have a story to tell (I didn't even mention Evelyn Waugh and the library at Tullynally). There's an honesty to the book, both in terms of the photography and the introduction that touches on Ireland's complex history.  Below are a few more images that lured me in.

[Huntington Castle.]

[At Tullynally, a view off the red drawing room shows a spiral staircase leading to one of the turrets.]

[Conservatory at Huntington Castle.]

Related past post: Mary Randolph Carter on Lives Well Spent 

 [©A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life by Mary Randolph Carter, Rizzoli New York, 2010.]